This Should Be An Episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm (or Seinfeld)
Something strange happened to me today.
I had coffee with a buddy of mine. Let’s call him “Rick.”
Rick told me this story. The previous day, Rick ran into a mutual friend of ours at a restaurant. Let’s call the mutual friend “Randi.”
Rick noticed Randi sitting alone. So, Rick went up to the table and said hello. Randi had just ordered his meal and was waiting for the food to arrive. While Rick was ordering his meal at the counter, Randi’s lunch came. Randi continued sitting alone and began eating his meal. Then, Rick’s food arrived and he began looking around for a place to sit down.
Picture some lost refugee. No homeland. Food getting cold. Wandering.
“I can’t believe that bastard Randi didn’t ask me to sit down and join him,” Rick ranted. “Do you think Randi is mad at me? Did I do something wrong?”
I had no idea. I didn’t know what to say. Truth is, I really didn’t give a shit.
But, in a weird coincidence, later that same evening I joined Randi for dinner (yes, really — true story). What I’d heard earlier in the day from Rick really bothered me; it kinda’ bothered me; well, it didn’t bother me at all — I’m just a nosy fuck. So, as we were talking and the drinks were flowing and James Hammer was buying and spewing his politics, I had to restore to some sanity to the dinner madness and bring up the story I’d been told at coffee earlier about Randi brushing off Rick in the seating derby the previous day. It just didn’t seem right.
“Are you mad at Rick?” I asked.
“What! Of course not!” he snapped. “Why would you ask me that?”
I related the story. But I took out the “bastard” part. Randi replied that he remembered the mutual awkwardness of that moment the previous day at the restaurant. He didn’t know what to do, either. He wasn’t sure if he should have extended an invite to Rick to sit down and join him. What’s the proper protocol? Anyone know? Anyone got “Mrs. Manners” on speed dial?
Randi made an excellent point in his rebuttal. He argued — hey, what if Rick wanted to dine alone? If Randi asked him to sit down, then Rick would feel obligated. Maybe Rick wanted some quiet time all by himself. Perhaps Rick had personal phone calls to make. Who knows? Maybe, Rick simply wasn’t thrilled about sitting down with Randi and pretending to give a shit what would be inevitably brought up in a forced conversation.
Don’t lie. We’ve all been there. Forced conversation is the fucking worst.
“I thought if Rick wanted to sit down and join me, he would have asked,” Randi said. “What was I supposed to say to that — no? Get lost? Stay away?”
So, it appears now that both Rick and Randi are mighty upset with each other. Because Randi didn’t offer him a seat. And Rick didn’t express an interest in sitting down and taking a seat at Randi’s table.
I know — such first-world problems.
And now, my question to the masses: What is the correct thing to do? Must friends always offer the other person a seat? Is it considered rude not to offer a seat, or to decline an offer to sit down at a lunch, dinner, or social engagement? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stood there frozen, after getting asked to sit down and be the life of the party, scrambling for an excuse.
Don’t lie. We’ve all been there. Getting a sympathy invite is bullshit. I want no piece of it. You didn’t invite me out to lunch, so quit pretending to be my friend. I hate it when I run into people, and they magically blurt out — oh, wow! Let’s grab lunch or a drink sometime. Hey, if you wanted to grab lunch or a drink you would have texted me instead of asking me out on a date while standing at a urinal. Fuck you!
But I digress.
After reading this article, I’m sure that Rick and Randi will both be pissed off at me. At least then, next time those two run into each other at a restaurant, they can enjoy an extraordinary meal together and agree upon what a miserable prick Nolan is for using their misunderstanding to selfishly write a blog post.
Hey guys, I’m glad to cement the bonds of your friendship — anytime.